Reputation has power. It has the power to save your company in hard times. It can also sink your company in the blink of an eye.
Consider these famous (American) stories, and how their reputations and decisive actions saved them.
Pepsico Drink Spike
In 1993, PepsiCo had a real problem. There were 50 reported cases of people finding syringes inside Diet-Pepsi cans around the country. The brand was taking a beating despite years of producing products the public loved. New organisation weighed in with speculation about the survivability of PepsiCo. Pepsi and government regulators were certain the syringes were a hoax. But they really drove it home when they produced a video of one of these supposed victims putting a syringe into a can. Furthermore, they produced a video showing the public their bottling procedure, showing consumers the inherent safety in the process. Pepsi defended itself by aggressively putting out their message.
JetBlue Flight Cancellations
JetBlue had built a reputation on being on time and never canceling flights. However, the ice storms of 2007 brought air travel to a complete halt. JetBlue, who had never canceled a flight before, had to cancel 1000 flights. Stranded passengers immediately went on social media and voiced their frustrations and anger at the company. Almost immediately, JetBlue responded by apologising for the problem. Despite being able to blame the weather, they didn’t. Instead, the CEO drafted a passenger bill of rights and compensated the passengers.
Johnson & Johnson Poisoned Medicine
Johnson & Johnson found themselves on the brink of PR and financial disaster. When seven people died as a result of poison-laced medicine, Johnson & Johnson immediately issued apologies to consumers, launched an investigation into the deaths, and re-examined its packaging process. The company stopped producing Tylenol capsules and created a three-layer protection system for all of its products. Additionally, they recalled 30 million bottles of the product. Because of their actions, the company saved face and gained a tremendous amount of credibility.
These large corporations survived hits to their brand because their immediate response was to confront and acknowledge the situation. Instead of creating defensive barriers between themselves and the public, they proactively dealt with the problems.
These actions were instrumental in not only helping each company survive the situation, but they also helped maintain the credibility of their respective industries. Their actions also protected their brands.
Their brands were protected because they each had solid reputations as strong companies with solid products and customer service.
This is what you want for your company.
What Are They Saying About You? It Matters…
Everything driving your company, from recruiting and retaining the best employees, to marketing, to getting the best vendors to supply you, rest on your reputation.
Without a good reputation, you will find it hard to succeed in your market. It will be even harder when the economy is down.
What is said about your company matters. Don’t limit yourself to only what your customers say. Your reputation influences your bank, your competitors, your distributors, pretty much anybody you do business with.
Begin Managing Your Reputation With These Three Steps
So, with this in mind, here are three steps you should take beginning today to protect your company from an attack on your reputation.
Plan A Strategy
You need a plan.
Your plan should focus on the worst case scenario. Something has happened, and you need to deal with it publicly. So, what are you going to do? Who is going to handle what tasks? What are the critical tasks you want to accomplish within the first 24-hours?
Your plan must be easy to implement and responsive. In today’s news cycle, you need to get your position and message out quickly. Delays can lead to accusations of hiding or avoiding the situation. You don’t want that, ever.
However, also have a plan to deal with poor reviews of your product or company. Poor reviews on local review sites can be devastating, be prepared to deal with them by giving direct responses.
Don’t Let Simple Complaints Go Unanswered
When a poor review is found on a review site, such as Yelp, it must be openly addressed by the company. In general, the response should include an apology, even if you don’t think one is warranted. Then offer to meet with the customer and try to fix the problem. Even if you are already aware of their situation, the public offering of finding a solution builds trust in readers. The key thing to remember here is your reputation builds your brand.
When there is a positive review there must be a ‘thank you’ posted by the company. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but you must acknowledge and thank the customer.
Never let a review, good or bad, go unanswered. People like to know they are being heard. Also, potential customers learn that you stand behind your product. This goes a long way to creating trust and authority.
Letting even one or two complaints go unanswered may cause potential customers to pass on your company and head to competitors.
Monitor Social Media
Keep an eye on your social media. Watch your company Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, etc. While this may seem like a troublesome task, there are plenty of apps and other tools available to help you. Look into tools like:
- Google Alerts
You don’t need to obsess about watching your online accounts. Establish a schedule, maybe two or three times a week, when you will go to each account and respond to reviews.
Regardless Of Size, Any Company Is Affected By A Poor Reputation
Smaller companies don’t often have the resources like large corporations to protect their reputations. However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t something you can do to help yourself.
Even small companies, those with one or two employees, can be deeply affected by a poor reputation. In fact, smaller companies need to be more vigilant. Their bottom line can drop dramatically if they fail to address complaints and rumors start about their reliability.
The steps mentioned can all be done by one employee. Or, if you are a sole-proprietorship, you can do them in about an hour or two every week.
“Does Any Of This Matter? People Don’t Pay Attention To Reviews!”
Please don’t have the attitude that online reviews aren’t important.
Customers and potential customers read and pay attention to reviews.
According to a study conducted by Brightlocal.com:
- 86% of people read reviews for local companies.
- For people who are 18 to 35 years old, online reviews are just as powerful as personal recommendations.
- It takes 10 positive reviews at a minimum for people to trust your company.
Your reputation builds and drives your brand. Don’t let it be destroyed by untruthful media, whether it be on a review site or in the news.
Anybody can begin managing their reputation with the above steps, so begin today. Your work will simultaneously build your brand and create a bridge with customers. For more tips on how to effectively build your business reputation, Contact Us today.